Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens (JZG) has announced that work began last week on the major renovation of its African Forest exhibit.
This will include the remodeling the great apes loop including the gorillas, bonobos, mandrills and lemurs. A new entryway will be added, topped with a 40-foot buttressed tropical tree enveloped in mesh, a new bonobo house and updated natural habitats.
The $9 million, four-acre project incorporates what the zoo describes as ‘wellness-inspired design’.
It will replace the current great apes section that originally opened to the public in 1998.
Funding for the project was boosted by a $2 million gift from Dan and Brenda Davis.
Executive Director, Tony Vecchio, said the acclaim won by JZG’s exhibits such as ‘The Land of The Tiger’ and ‘The Range of The Jaguar’ had raised visitor expectations across the whole zoo. He added that the new African Forest exhibit would continue that legacy.
Demolition begins tomorrow. During construction, there will be partial or full closure of the great apes loop until the project’s completion in 2018.
A number of animals will not be on view during construction, although the lemurs and siamangs will be relocated to other parts of the zoo where they can be visited.